Whether paying for books, tuition, or your free-time fun, balancing schoolwork and part-time employment is often a necessity for today’s college student. But your job should be more than a paycheck. Gaining work experience while you’re in school can kick start your career and give you an edge over other college grads. Here are just a few reasons you should make room for employment in your busy schedule:
Establish professional references: Part-time employment in your field of study helps build important relationships that will come in handy when you are job hunting at graduation time. Your employer may write a letter of reference, provide career advice, or even offer ongoing employment! (This guidance and support is priceless even if your part-time college work is outside your future profession of choice.)
Try before you buy: School is a great way to think about your career interests but you will really get to know what suits you when you’re in the field doing the work! Pursuing meaningful work demonstrates initiative to prospective employers and gives you a chance to try one (or maybe more) of the career paths you could pursue with your degree.
Flexible Schedules: Don’t rule out a job just because your schedule is crazy this semester or will change again in a few months. Some part-time positions have set schedules, but others are flexible. Contracted or temporary positions may allow you to flex your time or work non-traditional hours. Also look for substitute positions in which you control the days/hours/shifts you pick up. Remember that all professional experience is a foot in the door!
Benefits: If you can commit to a set schedule for a regular (non-substitute) position, you may be eligible for benefits from your employer (paid time off, 401k, healthcare, etc). Benefits can increase the value of your compensation by more than 30%!
Jen Nolin, Integrated Recruitment Team at Howard Center. www.howardcentercareers.org